Patriots

NFL will 'vigorously' defend itself against Hernandez suit, cautions against making him a victim

NFL will 'vigorously' defend itself against Hernandez suit, cautions against making him a victim

The NFL intends to vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit filed on behalf of Aaron Hernandez's family against the league and the Patriots. 

“We intend to contest the claim vigorously,” NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said at a media briefing Friday. 

Hernandez's lawyer, Jose Baez, announced the lawsuit Thursday and said tests at Boston University showed that the former Patriots tight end had a severe case of the degenerative brain disease CTE. 

NBC's Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes the league may argue that Hernandez’s rights already have been determined by the settlement of the class action concussion suit brought by former players. The NFL doesn’t yet know whether Hernandez was part of the class, or whether he opted out of it.

Lockhart cautioned against painting Hernandez as a victim. 

"His personal story is complex, it doesn’t lend itself to simple answers,” Lockhart said. “He was convicted of a homicide and his well-documented behavioral issues began long before he played in the National Football League. . . . The real victims are the friends and family of those he killed, along with his young daughter.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick's reaction to the Hernandez lawsuit story? "I'm not a doctor," he told reporters in Foxboro on Friday.

On the question of a link between concussions and CTE, Lockhart said science hasn't been able to connect the dots yet. 

“It’s a very complicated puzzle,” he said. “Every piece is important...There are a lot of dots here, and science just hasn’t been able to connect them.”